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WeBuyCars buys the Dome to create enormous used car dealership

‘…Another devastating blow for the exhibitions, events and entertainment industry due to Covid-19’ – RX Venue Management.
Image: Supplied

WeBuyCars, majority owned by Transaction Capital, has confirmed it has purchased the Ticketpro Dome in Northgate, Johannesburg from owners the Sasol Pension Fund. In a statement it says it will create one of the biggest used-car dealerships in the world in the facility.

The structure was originally built to be a permanent car showroom, but this never materialised. It was launched as a multi-purpose entertainment and events arena in 1998 and soon after housed the temporary casino for Tsogo Sun’s third property, Montecasino. At that point, it was known as the Sundome. MTN soon joined as a naming sponsor. When the casino moved to its permanent home in Fourways, the future of the venue became uncertain. In 2004, Coca-Cola signed an initial five-year naming rights agreement. Ticketpro became naming rights partner in 2015.

CEO of WeBuyCars Faan van der Walt says the Dome will allow the business to increase its footprint in Johannesburg.

He says WeBuyCars is now able to finally realise the original vision held for the Dome and develop it into one of the biggest second-hand car dealerships in the world.

Given its size, it will be able to store approximately 1 500 vehicles. WeBuyCars said the location – it is easily accessible from the N1 – and size of the new dealership would deliver “unrivalled convenience, value and selection to customers”.

The business has eight branches across the country, of which four are in Gauteng. The largest is in Midstream, between Midrand and Centurion. Its newest branch, Germiston, launched in June 2021. Its Brackenfell, Cape Town showroom was built by Atterbury and is valued at R150 million. It has 13 500m2 of floor space and can accommodate approximately 700 cars.

Transaction Capital in May revealed that WeBuyCars was selling in excess of 8 000 vehicles per month by March of this year. It expects this number to reach 10 000 within 18 months. At that point, it owned 49.9% of the business, but has subsequently increased this to 74.9%.

It estimates roughly 1.1 million used vehicle sales per year currently, with an annual compound growth rate over the last decade of 1.8% per annum (versus 0.9% for new cars).

At the 10 000 cars per month level, WeBuyCars will have less than 11% of the market.

A blow to events industry

RX Venue Management, which has operated the facility for a number of years, says the sale is “another devastating blow for the exhibitions, events and entertainment industry due to Covid-19. The ban on public gatherings has meant that during 2020 and now 2021, the Ticketpro Dome has been unable to operate”.

Carol Weaving, MD of RX Africa, says “The selling of the Ticketpro Dome is extremely disappointing and heartbreaking for our industry. The Ticketpro Dome has been home to many international concerts and events in South Africa, and this will undoubtedly leave a huge void. Unfortunately, as we are only the managing company; we were unable to change the outcome of Sasol Pension Fund selling the venue due to force majeure”.

End of an era

Source: Supplied

The purchase price of the venue has not been disclosed.

The venue had been under pressure for a number of years prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. When the Sun Arena at Time Square in Menlyn, Pretoria opened in late 2017, this created additional pressure given the stark difference in the quality of facilities on offer.

A number of promoters started hosting events and international performers at the Sun Arena instead of the Dome, and some exhibitions also shifted to Pretoria. It is unclear whether the Sasol Pension Fund had been quietly searching for a buyer prior to the pandemic, but given these pressures, it would be surprising if this were not the case.

The sale leaves Johannesburg with no large events venue.

The Sandton Convention Centre and Gallagher Estate are the only two sizeable indoor spaces in the city, but both accommodate fewer than 10 000 people.

COMMENTS   22

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What an absolute loss. So sad for the entertainment industry.

Government has decided that events, socialising, religious worship and leisure are all non-essential. Heartbreaking for people in those industries, and humanity will be worse off for it in the long-run.

Come and see how big the funerals are in the Eastern Cape, sans masks.

I will miss the concerts. Even though the acoustics in the dome weren’t that great, I sure had some good times there.

For sure. I fondly recall the Brian Adams concerts (2003 & 2010)

…….now changed to: “WeBuyDomes”

😉

Now this is the type of comment that keeps me coming back to moneyweb! Hilarious

I think it’s only fitting that the northern suburbs of Johannesburg should be home to one of the biggest used-car dealerships in the world.

Truly the belville of the North.

Love or hate car dealerships, credit to webuycars, they moved pretty swiftly, saw an opportunity and saved a landlord likely bleeding due to a loss of income. Gauteng now has Times Square for events so that venue hole is plugged in a sense.

After last week, why would anyone invest in South Africa?

You live there? Investing there is less risk than living there. Talk is cheap ne.

Bib shakes his fist in the general direction of a cloud.

Aah, did I upset someone’s victimhood?

Weak.

Your age and your slip are showing, Bib.

Ahh yes, the people who whine about how it would be crazy to invest there but happily live there. Makes me wonder: How can I take what they say seriously if they don’t take themselves seriously? I can’t. It is just the whining of a broken and defeated people.

Yes I do live here.

I have invested my time here. And I made a mistake staying here. Came back for family reasons but other than that there is nothing holding me here.

I have invested my Capital here. I have friends that have invested significantly…only to sell their manufacturing plant (because it was robbed on multiple occasions)… they too have moved …. happily in Canada using their South African Entrepreneurial skills to grow the Canadian economy.

I wonder since when Sasol Pension Fund owned this, and why on earth it bought it. Pension funds are supposed to buy stable income streams.

Price will also be interesting. PWC sold their former office park in Sunninghill to a developer that plans to convert it to apartments, for R1000/ square meter. That values the buildings at less than zero.

Yes, they must have less than zero area.

I hope that will have excellent security. Once full of vehicles, that building will be a nice big juicy target for looters and arsonists.

Hope the residents are on board, not a good situation if 1500 cars go up in flames!

…or stolen/looted in 60 seconds.

End of comments.

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